Father's Day is Still Too Hard.

24 76
Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago

Friday, 25 June 2021 6:00 a.m.

It's a still and silent morning. I've been awake only long enough to start the coffee. As the sky slowly lightens and the birds start chattering I think about the same thing I've been thinking about all month.

My dad.

My dad and me

I had planned on writing an article about him this father's day. But every time I sat down to write I would freeze up. All month.

As Father's Day got closer, little snippets of what I wanted to write and little snippets of memory would float through my head.

And I would sit down to write and freeze.

I have a lot of trauma surrounding my dad. I don't really want to get into the nitty-gritty of it all. Hopefully, I can write a little bit about him this morning. And maybe a little more later on.

If I take it in stages, maybe I'll be ok.

Me at 4 months and Santa

My parents got divorced when I was a baby. I was 2&1/2 years old. They had been married for 7 years.

I saw my dad every other weekend until I was 9 and my mom remarried and we moved to Germany. She had two more babies in quick succession - 16 months apart.

Me and my 2 little brothers in Germany

My dad came to visit me twice during the 4 years I was in Germany, from age 9 to age 13. 4th grade through 7th grade.

I don't remember much about those visits. I remember him teaching me to draw a little and him drawing a comic and his hand holding a cigarette and the ashtray on the table. I remember him explaining a little bit about shading. He talked about drawing people's hair. That not every single hair is drawn, rather the picture is shaded to give the impression of hair.

That's it. That is my memory of 2 of his visits to Germany.

I guess his visits caused trauma. I know I missed him so much. I was a daddy's girl. I know our moving to Germany hurt him a lot. I suspect I internalized that hurt and that's why I can't remember. I probably blamed myself for his hurt. Obviously a 9-year-old child has no control over her life. I don't remember feeling responsible, but I know me. I know how my head works.

I'm certain I blamed myself for his hurt.

After Germany, we moved to Texas.

*I have to take a break here

Friday, 25 June 2021 12:27 p.m.

My family in Texas.

Texas was tumultuous for me. It was in Texas I first smoked pot, first did crank, first used mushrooms and acid, first attempted suicide, first overdosed on pills, first hospitalized in a mental institution.

There were more firsts. First had sex willingly, first had sex forced, first had a masturbating peeping Tom outside my bedroom window.

There were some good firsts, too. My first love (who was also my first willing sexual encounter and whom I later married and have children with and is sitting next to me as I write this).

10th grade school photo

Every single time I argued with my mother, which was daily, I would long to go live with my father.

The relationship I had (still have) with my mother was (is) toxic. It was also very physical. I've heard stories from my dad about being slapped across the face when I was as young as 5, 6, or 7.

In Germany, there were several very physical moments. I don't want to go into details now, other than to say I was in my 20s before I would admit to myself I had survived child abuse. It wasn't that I didn't acknowledge the abuse. I didn't acknowledge I was a child. Even at age 9, 10, 11.

In Texas, I remember looking through photo albums of my while I was sobbing in desperation and cutting my wrists.

*I need another break here

Saturday, 26 June 2021 6:17 a.m.

Peaceful morning on the ranch

The night is lifting and a new day is dawning. I'm sitting in the garage smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee. Trying to think of the next thing to write.

I didn't start this story with an outline. Some stories I really need an outline to write. This one is outlined on my wrist.

I have a road map of scars.

I wasn't what people today call a cutter. Cutters will slice themselves as a means of escaping emotional pain. The physical pain will release dopamine and soothe the negative emotions.

I was a desperation cutter. The negative emotions were so overwhelming, and nothing would relieve the pain. Not drugs. Not alcohol. The only way out of the pain was out of my life.

In order for the pain to end, I felt I needed my life to end.

I attempted suicide so many times. Cutting. Overdosing intentionally.

The first time I attempted suicide was before we left for Germany. I was already in school so I must've been 6 or 7 years old.

I remembered on television I would see people jump or be thrown off of a tall building and then they weren't on the show anymore.

Back then, they didn't have all of the children's stations they have now. They had PBS, which I watched, but in the evenings I watched the adult programs like Charlie's Angels, Starsky and Hutch, The Rockford Files, Kojack, Hawaii 5-O, and The Six Million Dollar Man.

Saturday, 26 June 2021 7:25 a.m.

I took another break. I milked J.J. and fed the birds.

J.J.

I'll continue now.

When I was 6 or 7, in first or second grade, I was so angry and sad. I'm not sure what was going on in my life at that point other than the story my dad told of my mom slapping me across the face. I don't remember that.

I also don't remember sexual misconduct by the husband of my preschool teacher, although he was indicted several years later for taking explicit photos of the children during nap time.

But just because I don't remember, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

In order to stop the anger and the hurt, I thought I might like to no longer be on the show, just like on TV.

I climbed a tree as high as I could and I jumped.

I broke my foot.

I told my mom I fell.

I never told my mom the truth as I grew older. She would not have believed me, anyway. She never believed me. About anything. To this day.

For example, she came to visit me here, on the ranch and tried to use her laptop. I told her we couldn't WiFi where we were. She spent two hours trying to get WiFi so she could go online.

Finally, she said, "Well. I guess you were right."

My dad always believed me. No matter what. Immediately. Without trying to verify anything himself.

That's one reason I felt so close to him. I truly believed he was the "good" parent and my mom was the "bad" parent. I believed this until just a few years ago.

I realized they were both crap parents when I was attempting to write my memoir. (It's still on a back shelf, but I'm uncertain if I will ever finish it)

I realized as I was writing things about my dad and how great I thought he was that really he wasn't.

He used to take me to parties where it was very smoky with cigarette and marijuana smoke.

He told this story, often, of how when I was 5 or 6, I asked him what he was smoking in his pipe. He said I asked if I could try it. So he let me.

He had been smoking marijuana.

The way he tells the story, I took a puff or two off of his pipe, and then spent the next few hours tapping out a rhythm with my feet on the dashboard of his car.

I remember that car. It was a black Volkswagen Bug with a convertible top.

I also remember his pipe. It wasn't fancy like the ones they have today. It was just a wooden pipe. He had that poor until the day he died. Or one very like it.

When Dad would tell the story, he would glorify it. He would tell it as if it was the coolest thing ever to give a little girl mind-altering drugs and watch her, stoned out of her mind, make percussion music with her feet.

Recounting this story to my notebook made me realize he was never the "good" parent.

He was just nicer to me than my mother. I believed him when he said I love you.

When my mother says I love you, even today, she says it like an accusation. There is always anger and justification in her tone.

*I need another break

Saturday, 26 June, 2021 11:27 a.m.

*

*

*

Saturday, 26 June 2021 3:30 p.m.

I froze again. Above and now. I think I'll put it away until tomorrow.

*

Tuesday, 29 June 2021 8:06 a.m.

My father was a great talker. He could talk for hours and hours. He knew how big a talker he was and for fun one day made a bunch of coupons. The coupons read, "Redeem for 15 minutes of silence."

He would hand these coupons out to people when he thought they had done something good or interesting. As far as I know, I was the only person to "redeem" a coupon.

Dad told great stories and was a master at telling jokes. He could draw a joke out, holding the listener's attention until the punchline.

Usually, these storytellings and jokes were enjoyable. Even the third, fourth, or fifth time he told the same exact story. But sometimes, when asked a question, his answers would get overlong. For example, I would ask what time he wanted to come to pick me up for lunch.

Instead of simply saying, "One o'clock." He would verbally and slowly go through his entire day. "Let's see. I come home from work at 7:00 a.m. I Will need to shower. And shave. I will have to get dressed and then I want to ride my bicycle to the book store. I will buy some books and ride back home. I'll take a short nap and wake up around noon. I'll have a cup of coffee and get ready. That means I'll pick you up around one o'clock."

He would spend hours at a restaurant, eating and flirting with the waitresses. Then, when he talked to someone else about his day, he would go through everything he and the waitress had said to each other. Often he would tell the same story of whatever encounter several times.

I would get impatient with him after the fourth or fifth telling, especially if I was in a hurry. As much as I loved my daddy and respected him, I might snap at him when he got going on another oft-told story.

This is exactly what happened the very last time I ever spoke to him.

*

Phew. This is getting close to the meat of the story and I feel a lump forming in my throat. Tears are pricking my eyes. I find myself holding my breath. I think I'll need (yet another) break. It will all become clear as I reach the end of this story.

*

*

*

December 27 2021

Yes, it's taken me this long to finish this story.

. . .

On December 7, 2007 I received a phone call from my Uncle Bill. He's not really my uncle, but he and my dad had been friends since they were 5 years old. He called to tell me that he hadn't heard from my dad for a while. Dad wasn't answering his phone.

I explained that Dad sometimes couldn't get a signal, so maybe he wasn't receiving the phone calls. Then, Uncle Bill dropped the bomb.

Dad wasn't answering his emails.

Dad always answered his emails.

I had been living in Bakersfield, CA. Dad lived in Pasadena, CA. It was a two hour drive between us.

I called my mom, and asked if I could borrow her car. She said she would come with me. Mom and Dad had been divorced since I was 2 and she had been remarried since I was 9. I was, at this time 39 years old. I'm not sure why it's important to add that, other than it keeps me from writing this next part.

We drive the 2 hours to Pasadena and got to my dad's apartment. Much of this party is blotchy in my memory.

I remember walking up to his door.

I remember putting the key in his lock.

My mom tells me I said, "He's dead." I don't remember that.

I remember unlocking the door and walking inside.

I remember the warmth of the apartment and the smell.

I remember walking back into dad's bedroom.

That's where I found him.

He was face down on the floor with his head very close to the wall. His hands were under his shoulders as if he was trying to push himself off the floor and he was up on his toes. His feet were bare.

There was a large stain underneath him.

It took a few moments to process what I was seeing.

I remember walking outside and calling 911 (emergency services). I told them the address and that there was a dead body and that there was no need for an ambulance.

I think they sent an ambulance anyway. My mom wanted to go inside with them. They told her no. She went inside anyway. I stayed outside.

I remember people coming out of the apartment. My mom said she couldn't identify him.

I remember asking if I needed to go back inside. I remember everyone shouting, "No!"

I remember saying it was him. I recognized his feet.

I remember waiting and waiting and waiting for the coroners to come.

I remember this was one of the worst days of my life.

*

*

*

This is why Father's Day is too hard for me. This is why starting around November 15 everything becomes hard for me.

We don't know when he died. We aren't sure exactly why he died.

The last evidence of him being alive was one of those take-a-number tickets from November 15. It's possible he was dead for 3 weeks (with the heater on) before I found him.

*

*

*

This is why you won't see me worrying Father's Day stories. This is why I tend to shut down from November to January. Sometimes February.

It's been 14 years and it still feels so raw. I still regret my harsh words to him. My last words to him.

I often wonder what he would think of my life today.

My brain tends to shy away from thoughts of him, it's still a little too soon. Yes, even after 14 years.

19
$ 3.98
$ 3.21 from @TheRandomRewarder
$ 0.20 from @soyunasantacruz
$ 0.15 from @Olasquare
+ 8
Sponsors of JonicaBradley
empty
empty
empty
Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago

Comments

Your story is reverberating, at least you survived your horrors which is very important, most people would have succeeded in the suicidal phase, I mean I did remember my dad disowning me and how all my problems happened like a bomb I stood in the middle of the road but no car came to end my pain . am so sorry you had to go through all of this at a young age its changes a person.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

That it does

$ 0.00
2 years ago

I only celebrated Father's Day when I was a child, I can count 2 times at most. My dad, he was never home. I cried, and I'm still crying because of what you say. My dad passed away in 2020, November 13, 2020 at 12:13 pm, on a Friday. I kind of empathize with your story, my life has been a little different than yours. However, when I remember my father I feel nostalgia, pain and guilt. I don't know if I will ever get over him, but I know I may not. Oh Jonica, you have brought tears to my eyes today.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

I apologize for the tears.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

Don't worry, I'm usually too sensitive.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

I don't believe there is such a thing as too sensitive. However sensitive you are is exactly the right amount of sensitive for you.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

While reading your story I went through many emotions, first I felt the love that your father had for you that in spite of being separated from your mother, for years he visited you every two weeks, and even traveled to another country to spend time with you. For me that is love.

Then I felt nerves, anguish and sadness for you not feeling understood, your words made me feel the same way.

Then I felt pain to see that her father was not a good father, what father does that to his daughter, he must have been very immature to do that, however that does not mean that he did not love her. He was a bad father yes, but maybe he was a bad father because he didn't know how to do it better and that doesn't mean he didn't love her.

This situation left me very confused, to do it right relates to loving or not.

I am glad that in the worst day of her life her mother was with you, that makes me change a little the perception I have for her.

Thank you very much for opening your heart, I wish your wounds heal and be filled with love. reading your story made me turn on the alarms, I know a 13 year old boy who is deaf mute, and he fell from a window on a 5 floor at 1 am, when his family was sleeping.

Everyone thinks it was a prank that caused the accident, now I see it clearly, he may receive a lot of love from his family but no one knows the pain he has inside. Thank you.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

That's horrible about the little boy. Did he survive?

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Yes, he was operated twice for internal bleeding and a hand fracture, he is still hospitalized after three months and now they are asking for help again to put a hip prosthesis, after he got out of danger they realized that he could not walk.

Really his situation is even sadder.

$ 0.05
2 years ago

Oh, poor baby.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Damn, I'm sorry about what you must have gone through while you're a kid, I know I'm young but I understand some of the trauma you must have gone through, but the fact is, no matter how bad a parent are, a kid can't hate them down to the earth. It must have been hard for you, all those first too, it must have left a mark in your memories, but with time, I'm sure things heal.. Wishing you more good memories as things pass by

$ 0.01
2 years ago

Thank you. Writing about it helps immensely.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

That's nice.. Anyways, we are always hear if you need anyone to talk to

$ 0.00
2 years ago

So emotional story. Life is sometimes so difficult and unfair that it is hard to see the purpose of living. I lost my father suddenly in February this year and my life will never be the same again. Suffering has become an integral part of my every day. P.S. Thank you very much for the sponsorship. I appreciate your support.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

I'm so sorry for your loss. It is pretty tough. I understand.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Yes, it is, and the worst thing is that it happened when I was pregnant, two weeks before giving birth. Thanks.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Oh that had to be rough.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Be strong always 🤗

$ 0.01
2 years ago

This been really hard for you. I don't know what to say but please stay strong.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

You don't have to say anything. Thank you for reading.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

A big hug to you old friend. No, I'm not here to console you or scold you. You just shared your inner feelings & dear I felt it too.

$ 0.01
2 years ago

Thanks, Lucy.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

Honestly, I don't know the right words to say.. You are so strong for overcoming such painful memory/ies. I felt all the sad emotions while reading this one, and I know that those sadness and pain are nowhere near to how you felt.

Thank you for having the courage and taking time to.share some vulnerable moments you have. I hope that one day, you'll feel lighter even with these memories, through time.

If there were really a next life, I hope it'd be all sunshine and flowers for you then.

Xoxo .

$ 0.01
2 years ago

Thank you. It has gotten easier over the years, but never really goes away.

$ 0.00
2 years ago